Reno Mayoral Candidate Forum Tuesday at University of Nevada - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Reno Mayoral Candidate Forum Tuesday at University of Nevada

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With nearly 20 names on the ballot for Reno Mayor this year, the campaigning is starting to heat up.

We saw that Tuesday as 17 of those candidates took part in a debate inside the Jot Travis student building on the University of Nevada campus.

The participants included DeLores Aiazzi, Robert Avery, Marsha Berkbigler, Michael Bertrand, Sean Burke, Chad Dehne', Tom Fitzgerald, Erik Holland, Eddie Lorton, Mark Markel, Ian Pasalich, Ray Pezonella, Larry Pizorno, Chuck Reno, Hillary Schieve, Idora Silver and Ken Stark.

"There's way too many (candidates)," said Martin Herman, a south Reno resident. "However, tonight should sort them out."

"I think it's phenomenal that we have this many choices and people are interested," said Paula Povilaitis, of Lemmon Valley. "Politics seems to be, like, something people take apathy on. So, for this many to run, I'm thrilled."

The Reno Gazette-Journal and KNPB Channel 5 hosted the event, as we got a bit of a closer look at what voters have to choose from.

"I know there's a lot of things that need to be accomplished," said Karol McClellan, a Reno resident. "I wanted to see what skills and abilities are going to be offered."

People wanted to see how the candidates' platforms matched with their views.

"Who's going to do the best job in cleaning up Reno," Herman said. "Getting Reno on a financial footing that's going to promote growth."

"Definitely hoping to see their platforms, whose platform definitely aligns with my vision for the community" said Ziad Rashdan, a University of Nevada student. "Sort of see which candidates are the stand out candidates."

RGJ's Anjeanette Damon and KNPB's Brent Boynton were the moderators for Tuesday's debate. Each candidate had a minute to introduce themselves. They then received three questions with 30 seconds to answer each of them. The topics ranged from the city's budget to the homeless issue.

There was also a lightning round where candidates showed support for questions by simply, raising their hand.

Examples of the lightning round:

Do you support maintaining four-person firefighting crews?

Yes: Dehne', Stark, Pasalich, Aiazzi, Schieve, Bertrand, Lorton, Pezonella, Reno, Holland, Burke, Silver, Pizorno, Markel

Should collective bargaining negotiations for public safety workers (i.e. firefighters) be done in public?

Yes: Dehne', Stark, Avery, Fitzgerald, Bertand, Lorton, Berkbigler, Pezonella, Reno, Holland, Burke, Pizorno, Markel, Pasalich

Would you vote to give $1 million to the Aces Ballpark development next year?

(No one raised their hands)

Should the city pay for retirement health benefits for new employees?

Yes: Dehne', Reno, Markel, Stark

Should the city allow medical marijuana dispensaries?

Yes: Dehne', Stark, Pasalich, Aiazzi, Schieve, Avery, Fitzgerald, Bertrand, Lorton, Berkbigler, Reno, Holland, Burke, Pizorno, Markel

Do you support same-sex marriage?

Yes: Dehne', Stark, Pasalich, Aiazzi, Schieve, Fitzgerald, Holland, Burke, Silver, Pizorno

Would you keep your full-time job if elected mayor?

Yes: Dehne', Holland, Markel

Afterwards, we asked some of the same locals from earlier if they felt the debate was beneficial for them.

"None of the candidates really had any answers at this point," Herman said. "They just touched the surfaces of, basically, how they would try to solve the problems. As we get further and further into the candidacy and closer to the elections, I think we'll find out a little more about how each candidate is going to help solve the problems that we do have."

"I wish they would've had the questions before," Povilaitis said. "I think we would've had better answers."

Of course, with 17 candidates up there, organizers say they wanted to keep the event on time. Regardless, some people were able to narrow down their field of candidates to possibly vote for.

"I was absolutely able to narrow down to about eight candidates," Rashdan said.

We also talked to several candidates who understand the citizens have a tough choice.

"I think we can easily say you can go from democrat, to republican, to nonpartisan, to just deciding if you want a woman or a man in the job," Aiazzi said.

"There's a lot of researching they need to do," Avery said. "You need to Google Reno mayoral candidates, and click on the links, and go to those people's websites, and find out what they stand for, what their credentials are and what their visions are for taking us into the next generation."

"This is going to be the most important election in our lifetime," Lorton said. "A lot of people worry about national politics. Well, local politics affects you even more. Therefore, I hope people get out and vote."

"This election really matters, Reno said. "This is an open seat, and this could be the next 12 years for the city of Reno. We got to remember that, so choose wisely."

The RGJ and KNPB are picking the top 10 candidates to take part in a televised debate on May 29th. They'll be picked based on social media followers, fundraising reports due on May 20th, and a ballot filled out by locals (printed in all editions of the RGJ until May 20th) picking their top 5 candidates they want to see debate. The top 10 will be announced on May 22nd. 

Nevada’s primary is June 10th, with the general election November 6th.
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